Friday, February 5, 2016

Star Comics Defenders of the Earth #3

So after last months Gold Key story that had the Phantom facing off against some aliens, I wanted to take a look at another Phantom story with a sci-fi twist. I found a couple possibilities, but this one won fact I think I can make this a two-parter! 1986 saw the debut of the animated series "Defenders of the Earth" which teamed the Ghost Who Walks with fellow King Features heroes Flash Gordon, Mandrake the Magician and Lothar. Marvel Comics, through its imprint Star Comics, even produced a short lived comic series based on the cartoon. So today I bring you the story "Family Honor", written by Michael Higgins, and with art by Alex Saviuk and Fred Fredericks.

The Phantom, his daughter Jedda, and their pet panther Kisa are settling into their new home...Skull Cave! Well, a recreation of Skull Cave inside the Defenders' base "Monitor". Turns out its largely a simulation, convincing enough to fool Flash Gordon's son, Rick, into thinking he's in a Tarzan movie though. 

When Flash makes a comment about the Bandar, and how they may be dealing with things in the Phantom's absence, we flash to the jungle to see the answer.

Kurt Walker, older brother to Kit "The Phantom" Walker, demands that Guran, leader of the Bandar, appoint him their master. Guran tries to explain that the Phantom isn't their master, that he's their friend but Kurt doesn't get it. Instead he and two of his "friends" decide to return later and rob the Bandar people. At least that's Kurt's plan...his "friends" decide to push him off a bridge into a river and keep the Bandar's riches for themselves. 

Kurt's not out of the picture yet though, as he washes up near a cave and, after venturing in, discovers a throne and costume. It draws him in and when he places the horned skull mask on his head it's not Kurt that leaves the's N'dama, the Weather Demon!

As the criminals rob the Bandar village, the weather changes. Storms and lightning come out of nowhere...until N'dama appears. He tells Guran he's protected them, prevented the theft...and all he wants in return is their sworn allegiance...or else! 

When they refuse he leaves them in the middle of a blizzard to rethink their decision.

Back at Monitor, the heroes receive an alert of the strange weather. 

After ruling out the involvement of Ming the Merciless the Phantom and Jedda hop in the Skull Copter to investigate. As they get closer to the storm, lightning blows up the copter forcing the Phantom and Jedda to leap for their lives. Jedda is injured, so the Phantom carries her to the Bandar village for aid. Guran fills him in, and even hints that he suspects "someone familiar" is N'dama...but doesn't outright name Kurt. The Bandar scouts have reported that the Weather Demon is now at the Phantom's Skull Cave, which makes the Ghost Who Walks none too happy! 

Charging into the cave, he's shocked to find his brother Kurt sitting on his throne! The pair battle, brother against brother, weather against brute strength...with Kurt maintaining a slight upper hand.

Kit tries to talk to his brother, tries to offer him help in returning from his dark ways, Kurt responds with death threats! The Phantom only has one option...he summons his own magic, calling for the strength of ten tigers! Yet even then he doesn't want to harm his brother, merely subdue and help him. During the struggle the Phantom knocks off N'dama's mask revealing Kurt has been transformed into a demon! 

Panicked, he runs and bursts into flames...leaving behind only the horned skull mask. With that the Phantom collects his daughter, gives Guran a DOTE signal device, and heads back to Monitor in an older model of the Skull Copter the Bandar conveniently kept in storage.

So while this story only touched on the sci-fi aspects of Defenders of the Earth, it's still interesting. The Phantom has a daughter? And a brother? Hero and Devil are oddly missing, but now the Ghost Who Walks has a pet panther...and a Skull Copter. What it lacked in sci-fi it made up for in fantasy. N'dama is a weather demon wielding mystical powers. Even the Phantom can now summon animal based power! Equally interesting is that the story has many parallels to an episode of the animated DOTE series, which is where my earlier "two-parter" comment comes in, as I'll be taking a look at next month!

1 comment:

  1. I remember seeing this cartoon before I really knew any of these characters. Would love to read the comic and see how it holds up.